Erin Lambert



Let me believe the moon does not rise but sits motionless
on staff with quarter notes waiting to be played; the milk stands
on the shelf turning blue with dusk as the butter softens, slumped
near the door, its expression befitting one to be consumed.

Then leave me to the dust that falls without intention while a mop
finds rest in a dark space near turpentine and whiskey;
to this window that slants my answer, leaning to the left
watching blue jays take the field.

Because when I woke to the sound of my own voice, what I said
was off, distant, blue. I feed birds while far behind me,
the pitcher becomes the table and the brick, the moss.



for Larry Levis

That in the end, when silence showed you the moon and the way
cradled in a sycamore, you could see how even the quietest man
outlasts his most caustic failure; its memory no more significant
than four empty cans blown with rain down a one way

the wrong direction. It was then that you overheard two words:
acer negundo, plotting to steal the scent of corn and tar
from every back road though not one poet left can hear
how a pear and an Appaloosa stopped them

or why this robin, high on glue from the dump, can still send
its voice above this alley where a torn kite has never mourned
because it simply means nothing personal should ever be written
in rain. Not when it takes—I have to explain—to stone.




Late one night at 8th Street while waiting on a subway, I noticed a woman seated on the floor beside an incoherent painting scrawled in yellow, black, orange. A small crowd had gathered and when I approached, she held up a paintbrush and asked if I wanted to contribute.

Were you ever in the middle of trying to save your own life—a decision or idea that would change everything—when suddenly there appeared all around you so many voices that "just came by to say," each one an expert on what is essential or expendable?

Yes, I answered, and refused the brush.